Boca Raton unanimously approves new city budget

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The proposed budget received final, unanimous approval Wednesday night after passing a first reading Sept. 13. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2022.

Boca wants to hire an assistant city manager, two permit and licensing techs, two building inspectors and a construction inspector — at a total of $639,100 for salaries and benefits — along with more positions to help city’s new building reinspection program.

They’re also looking for three park rangers, sanitation and storm water maintenance workers, among others. Some of the recent staffing shortages have meant reduced programs or operating hours, City Manager Leif Ahnell said.

The police department will get another $5 million, mostly to pay for increases in salaries and benefits, personal protective equipment, technology upgrades, surveillance equipment and other equipment.

And the fire department is set to get another $3 million, which will pay for a new fire truck and ambulance, among other expenses.

Ahnell recommended raising the general fund operating budget $16,776,400, or 9%, over last year’s. Instead of raising taxes, Ahnell wanted the city to use the $2.2 million it received in COVID-19 assistance from the federal government, under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Ahnell praised the city’s low property tax rate compared with other major cities in South Florida. With a millage rate of about 3.68, it was lower than Fort Lauderdale’s 4.38, Deerfield Beach’s 6.36, Delray Beach’s 6.84 and West Palm Beach’s 8.42.

The city also approved a number of grants to local nonprofits, but a full breakdown of those grants was not immediately available.

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